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Hebrews 6:10-12 by Robert Dean
Series:Hebrews (2005)
Duration:54 mins 23 secs

Hebrews Lesson 73  December 21, 2006


NKJ Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.


 We are still in Hebrews 6. We are in the section from verse 9 to verse 12. Let's go over these initially to get the flow of thought in this section. The writer says… 


NKJ Hebrews 6:9 But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner.


Beloved is a term that is used for believers in the Scripture so we know that he is not addressing unbelievers


NKJ Hebrews 6:10 For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.


NKJ Hebrews 6:11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end,


NKJ Hebrews 6:12 that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.


We have gone through verse 9. We have seen that the point is that we can have confidence that despite failure, God's grace always provides for recovery.  Remember he has just been giving them a rebuke for their spiritual sluggishness. He ends at the end of this section at the end of verse 12 by saying… 


that you do not become sluggish.


But actually back in verse 11 when he shifted into the warning exhortation, he said...


NKJ Hebrews 5:11 of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 


That is Melchizedek.


It is the same word that he uses there. So they have gone into this spiritual complacency where they are allowing the details of life to distract them. They are allowing the religious prestige of Judaism where most of these recipients were former priests and they had all of the pomp and circumstance associated with temple worship. All of that is part of the pressure on them. They are ready to give up Christianity and go back into the old legalistic system. So there is this dire warning that he writes in verses 4 through 6 regarding the dangers of spiritual regression. But here he returns to a positive note emphasizing confidence that he has that they can recover and they can go forward. 


This word we are confident is the Greek word peitho which emphasizes the present results of a completed action. He is confident that because of what he knows about God, what he knows about God's grace, because of what he knows about his readers that they can reverse course. They can recover and go forward because in God's plan there is no sin that is too great for the grace of God. No matter what you have done you can always go forward. You can always press on. So he is confident that they are not going to remain in this position of spiritual doldrums, but they are going to press on. 


The better things that he is convinced of are not just the better things in time, but there are some are associated with their ultimate salvation. That brings to bear a future orientation as I have pointed out before. This Greek word soteria for salvation in Hebrews is not a word that looks back to our past justification, but is a word that looks forward and anticipates the culmination of the whole salvation process – justification, sanctification and ultimate glorification where we realize our inheritance. If you look ahead in verse 12, he talks about inheriting the promises. So the doctrine that ties all of this together, that binds these thoughts together is this challenge to press on in the spiritual life because only by endurance and by patience and by consistency in taking in the Word, applying the Word, not being distracted by the pressures, the vicissitudes, the pains and the problems and the traumas of life are we going to be able to reach spiritual maturity and then when the Lord comes back in His kingdom realize the blessings of inheriting the kingdom. So this is his flow of thought. 


In the second verse that we looked at in verse 10, the emphasis is on God's justice. We always have to start with any issue, any problem, and any doctrine with the person of God - with His character, with His essence, with His attributes. His point in verse 10 is that God's justice doesn't forget or neglect or overlook the spiritual advance that we have made. No matter how badly you fail, God doesn't overlook or forget that divine good that has already been produced in your life. If you have been growing and maturing as a believer and you have been walking by means of the Spirit, there is divine good that is produced there and God doesn't overlook or forget that. But if you go into spiritual regression, you may lose ground spiritually. You may lose ground in terms of spiritual maturity. You may go through some intense divine discipline, but nevertheless God doesn't forget that which is already been done. So the emphasis in verse 10 is that God is not unjust to forget. It is a double negative there. He is not unjust. He says it with a double negative to emphasize the justice of God. 


We looked at the essence of God last time. The ten attributes of God - His sovereignty, righteousness, justice, love, eternal life, omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, veracity and immutability. We are focusing on His righteousness and justice. 


Psalm 89 says …


NKJ Psalm 89:14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Mercy and truth go before Your face.


So this is the foundation of understanding the character of God. He is absolutely correct in all that He does. The righteousness refers to the absolute standard of His character and justice refers to its application. So whatever God does is just. We go through a lot of injustices in life. A lot of times we wonder where God is. If God is really paying attention, then why does He let so-and-so get away with such-and-such?  It just seems like there are some people who never get punished and everything they touch turns to gold. Everything is wonderful. We wonder where the justice of God is. David did the same thing in the psalms. 


He said, "How long O Lord, how long will the righteous suffer and the wicked prosper?"


There are two or three different psalms where he vocalizes that very thought. Yet God says that eventually there will be justice either in time or in eternity.  A lot of times we just don't see it. We aren't there to watch what happens. It is like when the Israelites were in the wilderness. They grumbled against God because they didn't like the food. They were eating manna every morning and every noon and every night. After two or three months they got tired of eating those hot fresh Shipley donuts every morning for breakfast and lunch and dinner. It was boring and they wanted to go back to that great cuisine of Egypt.  So they grumbled and complained about the food. God sent the quail – this huge number of quail flew in. They threw out nets and they captured all the quail. They ate quail until they got sick and died from it.


The psalmist says that God answered their prayer, gave them the desire of their heart; but He sent leanness to their soul.


There are people in life. That is what God does. He blesses them to a point to show how absolutely miserable they are. We don't see the inner soul misery that a lot of people have when the lights go off at night and they are there by themselves. They have to look at the mirror and we don't recognize what is going on. Now we would like to. Now that is the problem. We would like to see some people and understand their pain and misery and watch God discipline. That is part of our carnality and our old sin nature trend. So the Scriptures emphasize the fact that God is always just. He is always fair. This is what Abraham said back in Genesis 18.


NKJ Genesis 18:25 "Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?


No matter what happens God is the one who has all the facts, all the data, all the information. He is the only one who can treat man collectively or individually with absolute justice and righteousness. So the writer of Hebrews says…


NKJ Hebrews 6:10 For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.


He is not going to forget what has gone on. There are three things that are mentioned there related to the verb. The verb is epilanthano which means to forget or to neglect or overlook. In a sense it is an anthropopathism related to God because God isn't concerned with memory. So we have to always go back and remember our definitions for anthropomorphism and anthropopathism. 


Now we just did this Tuesday night in a different series. 


You see the trouble when you are doing different series and you do the same thing is that everybody was here on Tuesday night and says, "Oh, we know all this." 


But the people who are listening out there in – what do we call it?  They don't listen to tapes anymore.  It's MP3 land or DVD land, out there in media land and the universal electronic church. They are just listening to Hebrews. So they need to hear this. 

So anthropomorphism is a figure of speech where there is an ascription. The language ascribes to God human physical characteristics which He doesn't actually possess, (like eyes, ears, nose, fingers, toes) to explain His essence, policy, acts and decisions in terms of human anatomy. So He is using human body parts to help us understand. It is language of accommodation, language of a common frame of reference to understand God's work. 


An anthropopathism is the same thing. Instead of ascribing physical characteristics to God, emotional characteristics are ascribed to God. You may not realize this because most of you have heard me teach this for so long, you have heard this taught. When I went to seminary I was surprised when we got into Psalms that second semester or second year of Hebrew when you are dealing with Hebrew poetry and you go through figures of speech. One of the first books you have to buy is a big 3-inch book done by E. Bolinger on figures of speech used in the Bible. Now I was an English major and I would suggest that most of you who were English majors that are here (I think there are one or two here) never heard of 90% of these figures of speech.  He traces them all the way back to Greek. He gives you the Greek names, the Latin names for them, all the examples in Scripture. It is a fantastic book. He does have anthropopeia in there which is the Latin form for anthropopathism. You have anthropopathism. 


But today we live in a world where people reject the notion that there is real anthropopathic talk. In other words, God really does feel all of these emotions.  What is interesting (and just to make a little connection with something I talked about on Tuesday night) remember on Tuesday night I talked about guilt and shame and how our understanding of guilt and shame has changed in the last 30 or 40 years. Ultimately this is all part of personality. We live in a world where we worship personality instead of character.  If you go back before 1900, you won't find works or people talking about personality. They were focused on character. I believe that a lot of that is the result of Freud. I have done a study. I haven't been able to do an exhaustive study. I haven't been able to go up to the Dallas Theological Seminary library or to any other library, but I have a fairly decent library on my own in print and on my computer. I have looked and looked and looked. You will find that often among contemporary conservative theologians, they will talk about the image of God in Genesis 1 that God is intellect, will and emotion. That is what personality is. Notice that word. But you don't find theologians like Calvin or Luther or Jonathan Edwards or WGT Shed or any of these earlier conservative theologians ever talk about personality. Never do they break down the image of God in terms of mind, will and emotion. Emotion isn't talked about. You don't find people starting to talk about emotion in the Christian life and God until after the midpoint of the 19th century. 


Years ago I thought, "Hum. I wonder if that means anything." 


What happened in the middle point of the 19th century? That is when you have the introduction of psychology and Freud and all this other stuff. That just shows an example of how worldly thinking, the philosophical concepts of the world put pressure on the church. The church always struggles with the garbage from the world outside. So there is a lot of debate here. 


In fact there was a time when theologians believed in what was called the impassability of God.  Break that word down etymologically.  That middle syllable "pass" derives from the same word where we get passion which was a word that was typically used in the Middle Ages to talk about human emotions. They were passions. They were fleshly passions that needed to be controlled. So when you talk about impassability, you are talking about not having the passion and that nothing man did would enter into and change the passions of God. He was impassable. Now you will find that very few conservative theologians will agree that God is impassible. God has emotions. Like I pointed out the other night that there is one who will remain nameless because he is near and dear to many people in congregation, a theologian who wrote a paper not long ago on the emotions of God and had it published.  I challenged him on it. 


He said, "How can you say these are figures of speech?"


I went to Exodus and said, "If you look at Exodus where it says that God got angry with Israel. In the Hebrew it literally says that God's nose burned."


In other words you do have a figure of speech there. It is an anthropomorphism. But the anthropomorphism is an anthropopathism. So it is a double figure of speech. 


He went "Hum. I hadn't thought about that. Maybe I need to go back and think about that."


"Yeah, you do."


So, what does God remember? See God doesn't forget things because God is omniscient. He always knows all of the knowable and nothing changes. So there are three things that God remembers. He remembers your work. He remembers your labor of love. He remembers your ministry. Now if you look at your text if you are using the New American Standard Bible, an NIV Bible, (God forbid) the Message, or the Living Bible or some of these others – the contemporary English Version, The Revised Standard Version, New Revised Standard Version, any of these contemporary versions; it doesn't have labor of love there. But that is in the Majority Text and majority of documents. Labor should be there. There are other passages that use that same terminology, specifically in I Thessalonians 1:3 which we will look at in a minute. 


So God remembers work, labor of love and ministry.  I pointed out last time that among most conservatives and evangelicals we don't like that word "work" because we think of works of the law. We think of works of morality, doing something to try to impress God except that the word work really has two basic ideas. One is negative work that is done in the power of the flesh and that which is positive, work that is done in the power of the Holy Spirit. So that is what we are focusing on here – the divine good that has been produced in the person's life. So when we talk about work we are talking about divine good. When we talk about labor of love, it is actually the labor that comes from the source of love. You see it is the love for one another motivates that labor and then Christian service. That is what ministry is. It is diokonia here. It means Christian service. We are going to look at what all that means in just a minute. 


So we looked at a summary of what we did on the doctrine of work last time. Work comes from the Greek ergon which refers to any kind of performance, doing something. It can be meritorious. It can be activity. It can be thought. It has a broad range of meanings – any kind of accomplishment. It is a value neutral word in and of itself. Context indicates whether it is bad or good. As I pointed out a minute ago some versions remove the word labor, but it is found in a majority of documents. It should read…


Literal translation:  For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love.


Make sure you have that in your text. Write it in if it is not there.


Now we looked at the whole concept of work. I just want to review a couple of verses we had up on the screen last week to emphasize the positive value the Bible has on work in the Christian life.


NKJ 2 Corinthians 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.


In other words God gave all of those spiritual assets - the problems solving devices, a completed canon of Scripture, a pastor-teacher, a local church where you can learn the Word of God. All of this is driving you to a point of production in terms of Christian service, in terms of Christian work, whatever field that may be in. The trouble is that when most people talk about Christian service, they have been exposed to too much legalism and they have this narrow view of what Christian service is. It is teaching Sunday school, working as an usher, being a deacon. Here it is baking cookies for church which I think is a very fine occupation.  But Christian service can involve all manner of different things. A lot of it is unseen. It can involve prayer for people, prayer for the sick, calling people and encouraging them, helping out you know who are going through some kind of difficulty. A lot of this is unseen and it should be. It is not the job of the deacons to make sure (or Sunday school teachers or whatever else they have.) or of the leadership of the church to make sure that everybody is out there doing Christian service. Christian service is a result of spiritual growth, not the cause of spiritual growth. 


My philosophy of ministry is that you teach the Word, people respond and grow. As they grow the Holy Spirit is going to bring into action their spiritual gifts, their talents, whatever it may be. It will flow naturally as time progresses. If they sit out in the pew and take notes and have volumes of notebooks and twenty years go by and you don't see any Christian service then you have to start wondering if they are ever really in fellowship or if the Holy Spirit is doing anything because that should be the ultimate result. 


In Ephesians 2:10 following a great passage on having a by grace through faith salvation Paul says that...


NKJ Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.


The role of the pastor and teacher is found in Ephesians 4:11-12.


NKJ Ephesians 4:11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,


NKJ Ephesians 4:12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,


So the teaching ministry of the local church is training, to teach you how to think and to understand the assets that God has given you – how to live the spiritual life so that the outworking of that is in terms of Christian service. Negatively it is used for example in Ephesians 5:11.


NKJ Ephesians 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.


So you have deeds of the darkness which would be sin and you have works of the law which would be morality, neither of which would have any kind of spiritual value. 


He told Timothy to instruct his congregation to do good and to be rich in good works and to be generous and to be ready to share. He also told him in II Timothy 3:17 that the man of God was to be prepared for every good work. Verses 16 and 17 deal with the inspiration of Scripture.


NKJ 2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,


NKJ 2 Timothy 3:17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.


In Hebrews 10:24 we are to stimulate one another. We are to encourage one another. 


NKJ Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and

good works,


In other words, Christians will get together (I know you do this) and talk.


"How can we help that person? What can we do over here?  How can we make this better?"


That is the interaction of people coming together and talking about how they can take things to a new level in whatever the issue is whether it is helping somebody or helping a missionary or being involved in prep school or whatever it is. There are all kinds of different areas, areas that we can't even approach here.


Let's look at this in terms of a flow chart. The Word is taught. You listen to a pastor. You listen to a Sunday school teacher. You listen to somebody on a tape. You hear the Word being taught. Under the filling ministry of God the Holy Spirit that goes into your soul as epignosis doctrine. Now we all know the dynamics of that. That is the process of divine viewpoint truth going in and hopefully human viewpoint kosmic thought being flushed out. That is the whole learning process. It is Romans 12:2.


NKJ Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.


That comes from coming to church. That is why church is foundationally in the Scripture based on an educational model and not a fellowship model. 


Somebody was showing me right before church a little flyer. You know we have these little things that you can pass out. You can use them to give the gospel. How many Scripture references are on here? 8? There are 8 Scripture references on this 3 x 5 card. There is a big flyer that they got in the neighborhood. A new church is going up. 


There is a picture of Mexican food on the front and it says, "It is NACHO Mama's Church." 


Not a single Bible reference in the whole thing. They could have put 30 in there. Not a single reference to the Bible, to Scripture, to Christ, or to salvation.  Oh, we live in such great times. What they have got is a church where kosmic truth is being reinforced and reemphasized and there is no biblical truth whatsoever. But they operate on this assumption that the church is a social institution. 


Now when I went to university, I am sure that the leadership at the university had some concept of social life among the students - like keeping it down.  But the main focus of the board of trustees of that that institution had to do with making sure that the students that came there would get a good education and that they would maintain their accreditation. Now even though that was the focus and objective of the school, there was a lot of fellowship going on.  There was a lot of social life. It is a by-product. Whenever people get together there is social life. Just look at what happens here in the kitchen every time before class. You can't stop it. Some people try, but you really can't stop it. They are going to get to know each other. 


But when you put the focus on fellowship and on social life, then what falls off the table is learning the Word of God and growing. So the emphasis has to be on learning the Word, putting divine viewpoint in your soul and getting rid of kosmic thought. When you walk by the Spirit, as you apply the Word and go forward that leads to spiritual growth. As you grow spiritually, this is going to impact two areas. First of all there is going to be spiritual production in the sense of the fruit of the Spirit. This is character transformation. These are the biblical virtues of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness – all that in Galatians 5:21-22. That is Christ-like character that takes place. Then there is this second area of production. That is Christian service. Now Christian service is part of two aspects – our royal priesthood which is toward God. This is prayer, giving, reading the Scriptures, and learning the Word.  All of this is part of our priesthood. Then there is our ambassadorship which has to do with witnessing, teaching in Sunday school, living our life as a witness or testimony before unbelievers and before the angels. There are a lot of other different dynamics for both royal priesthood and ambassadorship.  That is what Christian service really is. It is the function of our royal priesthood and our ambassadorship. The ambassadorship works in outward toward human beings and the priesthood is toward God. 


So that chart shows the role of work - going to Bible class, studying your Bible, thinking about it, learning it, memorizing Scripture, memorizing promises, claiming promises, being conscientious when you are driving down the freeway rushing to get that last minute Christmas present. Some illegal alien cuts you off because they don't know how to drive in American traffic and you get mad and angry. You have to exercise work to think about the fact that you are to respond differently. Sometimes that takes work. 


Then we have the labor of love. That is the outworking of the love that is the Christ-like character, the love that is produced by God the Holy Spirit and then that becomes a motive for labor in terms of service. So that is how these three aspects work out as they are emphasized in verse 10.


NKJ Hebrews 6:10 For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.


The focus is on His character. Whenever you see the name of God in Scripture that emphasizes His character, His person. That is our motivation. We learn who God is and that drives us to serve Him. Romans 12:1 talks about that being our reasonable service toward God. It is part of our personal worship. It goes in the direction of ministry, diokoneia. That is service to the saints. There are a couple of other passages that reinforce that same idea. 


One is I Thessalonians 1:3. There Paul says in his opening salutation to the Thessalonians, he reinforces the idea of his prayer and what he is praying for and what he is giving thanks for. For them he is giving thanks for their work of faith, their labor of love and their steadfastness of hope. 


NKJ 1 Thessalonians 1:3 remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father,


So you have these three things emphasized there. There are three virtues that are mentioned – their work, their labor and their steadfastness. They are each linked to something by a genitive construction. That genitive should be understood as a source. The work comes from their source of their faith as they learn to trust God and as they are trusting in God they are willing to put forth the effort needed to concentrate on learning the Word of God, studying the Word of God, memorizing the Word of God, applying the Word of God. So that is called the work of faith. 


Secondly, there is the labor of love. This is the Greek word kopos meaning to engage in an activity that is burdensome. So it goes beyond work to labor. It is going to take time. There may be self-sacrifice. If you decide to go to seminary, it is going to mean sacrifice at a certain level – staying up late at night.  It is intense. If you decide to teach in prep school or if you are going to help out in different functions around the local church, it is going to take time. It is going to take energy. There are things that are going to have to say no to so that you can do a good job in those particular things. But it is a labor that comes from the source of love. 


Notice the faith rest drill characterizes that spiritual growth in infancy. The labor of love is a more mature love. Then the steadfastness of hope focuses on that personal sense of destiny. That is the third area. 


The word there for steadfastness is that very important word hupomone which means perseverance, hanging in there under trial. That is what James talks about in James 1: 2. 


NKJ James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,


NKJ James 1:3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.


Endurance has its maturing result. Paul talks about it in Romans 5 that endurance produces character and character hope. Hope is linked to endurance again in here in I Thessalonians 1:3. So the work comes from faith as you learn to trust God. Work comes from the source. Labor comes from the source of your love for God and motivates labor. Your hope that is your confident expectation in your future destiny - hope is always a future word. It is not this sort of wishful optimism that you have.


"Golly I hope that maybe we will have a White Christmas. We had one two years ago. Maybe it will happen again." 


No, that is wishful optimism. It probably isn't going to happen. It most likely isn't going to happen. But the hope in Scripture is a confident expectation. It is a certainty. We know what our destiny is. Because we know that, from the source of our confidence we are able to endure the difficulties, the temptations, the tests, the vicissitudes, and the problems of life and go forward in spiritual growth. So that is what Paul is praising the Thessalonians for and giving thanks for in his prayers. It is because of their work of faith, their labor and the steadfastness of hope. 


Now do you notice anything interesting in that passage? We have three things: faith, hope and love. Do we run into those three anywhere else in Scripture?  Sure we do. In I Corinthians 13:13 at the end of that famous chapter that gives us the characteristics of the love that the Holy Spirit is producing in us, at the end of the section that deals with the temporary nature of certain spiritual gifts specifically knowledge, prophecy, and tongues - at the conclusion the writer of Corinthians Paul says…


NKJ 1 Corinthians 13:13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.


This is really an interesting passage. In fact this passage is one that really opens up the interpretation of the last part of chapter 13 and drives a stake in the heart of the whole Pentecostal false teaching on tongues. There are a lot of non-charismatics who believe that this chapter is talking about the fact that when the perfect comes and that which is partial will be done away back in verse 10 that the perfect has to do with something in the future. It has to do with being in a perfect environment in heaven, being in a state of perfection before Jesus. So they tie it to either death when we are face to face with the Lord or the rapture when we are face to face with the Lord or the Second Coming. 


I always love those articulate theologians who want to sound so erudite and say, "This refers to the eskaton." 


Oh really! What is that? It is just indefinitely out there in the future somewhere.  So you have said something erudite, but you haven't said anything. The problem with all of those statements is that according to verse 10 that says …


NKJ 1 Corinthians 13:10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.


Really we should translate that the completed thing. 


There is a contrast going on here. If you look at verse 12, in the English it says…


NKJ 1 Corinthians 13:12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.


The word there for "now" is not the same word Greek word that you have for "now" in verse 13. The now in verse 12 is the now arti- now, generally speaking. Now we live in an age where we have a nation that promotes the liberty and freedom of the individual. See that covers the period of the existence of the United States. That is 200-300 years. It is a broad now. But the nuni that is used in verse 13 emphasizes a right now like this year, this week, this immediate time frame.


What Paul is saying is that in contrast to that which is partial and will be done away with, what continues now are faith, hope and love. So if then faith, hope and love continue after the perfect stops; then the perfect is somewhere off when we are in heaven then faith, hope, and love would continue beyond that.  Right? We have a problem with that because II Corinthians 5:7 says that when you walk by faith and not by sight. But when I die and I am face to face with the Lord I am going to quit walking by faith. So are you. We will be walking by sight. So if the doing away of the perfect in I Corinthians 13 has to do with coming into the presence of God, then faith won't be continuing beyond that. So that means that the cessation of the perfect has to be in time not in eternity or in heaven or something like that. Furthermore Romans 8:24 says… 


NKJ Romans 8:24 For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?


In other words, hope is going to stop when you are face to face with the Lord. When you are face to face with the Lord, faith and hope are not going to continue. Faith and hope are going to cease. The only thing that continues after you are face to face with the Lord is going to be love. That tells you right away that in I Corinthians 13 that the tongues, knowledge, prophecy and everything had to cease in time because the perfect had to come in time, not in eternity.  In eternity there is no faith. And there is no hope continuing. 


So we have these three things emphasized in I Corinthians 13:13.  The "now" there is emphasizing the fact that it is now in this immediate Church Age, this post completed canon, post tongue, post Church Age, post miraculous period what is going to continue is faith, hope and love. These are the dynamics that drive spiritual growth and spiritual maturity. As I pointed out in II Corinthians 5:7, we walk by faith. That means there has to be an object of faith. There isn't a Kierkegaardian existential leap of faith.


"Well I am just going to believe it because I ought to believe it." 


God never asked anyone to put their brain in neutral and believe a bunch of irrational nonsense. That's why in Acts 1 Luke tells Theophilus that Jesus appeared to them after the resurrection and gave them many convincing proofs. You see you don't put your brain in neutral when you trust Christ as Savior.  There are rational and empirical evidences throughout the Scripture for the doctrines that are contained in the Scripture for the resurrection of Christ, for the miracles for the work of Christ on the cross, for creation, everything. In fact you have to put your brain in neutral to be an evolutionist. You have to put your brain in neutral to be an atheist. You have to deny so much to reject God and to reject the Scripture. You have to buy so many lies and so many fabrications. In fact it is nothing more than intellectual and moral laziness to take up the position of agnosticism or atheism or postmodernism. It is another way to suppress the truth of God in your own life so that you don't have to deal with the fact that God has a claim on your life as an individual created in His image for a purpose. 


So we walk by faith. That means we trust in an eternal authority who gives us comprehensible information. We have to understand it and trust it. We don't walk by sight. It is not something that is rationally or empirically discerned because rationalism and empiricism always break down. It is too limited. 


Romans 8:24 talks about the fact that we are saved by means of hope. Turn in your Bibles to Romans 8 because this is a very important passage for understanding the spiritual life. There is so much in Romans 8. If we go back to verse 17 just to pick up a little context where it is talking about spiritual life and inheritance, we studied this not long ago and I want to remind you of this. There in Romans 8:17 we read…


NKJ Romans 8:17 and if children, then heirs -- heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.


The context brings in the idea of a future inheritance. Now the trouble that we have with this verse as I pointed out before (I just want to make sure you remember this) is the punctuation. The way it is normally punctuated, it looks a though you have two different things going on here that are the same – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ - and they are identical. But the way I have punctuated it on the screen is to show that there are two different heirships.  The one is heirship of God. It is common to every believer. We inherit eternal life. But the second is being a joint heir with Christ, but that is conditional. It is if we suffer with Him. 


I gave you this fun little illustration to punctuate the sentence.


Woman without her man is nothing.


Remember that?  Everybody gets a good chuckle out of this one. Women are going to punctuate it the first way.


Woman, without her, man is nothing


Men will punctuate it the second way.


Woman, without her man, is nothing.


See, it is where you put the commas. You have two completely different statements there depending on where you put the commas. In the first example you end up saying that man is nothing. In the second example because of where you put the commas, you end up saying that woman is nothing. 


So the translators of Romans 8:17 put the commas in the wrong place. There are two different heirships there. One is a common heirship, common to every believer. The other is a joint heirship – "if we suffer with Christ." That is not some masochistic sort of thing where you are going to go up and experience all of the sufferings of Christ so you were some kind of a goat hair shirt inside out or you go out and you live in a cave somewhere and you beat yourself in some kind of self flagellation. Or you go sit on a pillar in the desert like the pillar saints did in the 4th century with Simon Stilletes and a number of others.  This was the path to spirituality. 


What is so bizarre today is with the rise of the New Age movement back in the 80's and the shift away from the bankruptcy of enlightenment rationalism that really fragmented in the 60's and 70's and the rise of postmodernism, everything is subjective. t is all about the self. It is all about what I experience because after all that is so important. So what you see in the church - remember what I said earlier that the church always imitates the world. Well, as the world has become more and more subjective. So have Christians.  Since the early 80's I have seen a rise in the popularity of the books from the mystics of the early church.  You couldn't even find some of this stuff in print 40 years ago. Now you go to the local Christian bookstore and you can buy books by Theresa of Abila. You have never heard of them, all of these different kinds of medieval mystics. They are so popular. In fact one of the big trends that has come out in the last 20 years is contemplative spirituality. It is promoted by all kinds of conservative evangelicals. It is just subjectivity. Let's just contemplate our navels and call it God talking to me. 


That is not what we are talking about here – suffering with Him. If you are dedicated to grow as a believer, you will put yourself in right smack dab in the middle of the angelic conflict with the bull's eye on your spiritual hind end. You won't have any trouble figuring out where the suffering is coming from.  There will be all kinds of suffering for blessing, suffering for training, and adversity.  In fact the Apostle Paul tells Timothy that those who desire to live a godly life will be persecuted in one form or another. You can just count on it. So you don't have to go out and try to manufacture suffering to become spiritual. It will happen. Trust me. Just study the Word, apply the Word and it will happen. So we go on in chapter 8 and Paul says... 


NKJ Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.


What is he talking about here? To put a category on it, he is talking about that personal sense of destiny. When you realize how great the glory is that we are headed to and what we are being trained to accomplish and what God wants us to do in terms of that future reign as kings and priests in the Millennial Kingdom; then Paul says that when that becomes more real to you than your present problems, then you are going to begin to understand what this is about.


NKJ Romans 8:19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.


That happens when Jesus Christ returns. So the focus here is on the future return of Jesus Christ. 


He goes on to say…


NKJ Romans 8:20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope;


There is a key verse for understanding that when Adam sinned that sin was not something that just affected him. I have heard this so much lately. This idea that you come up with that I am known for arguing that you can't have an old earth because if anything dies (not plant life because that is a different kind of life in Genesis 1) but animal life, human life if anything dies before Adam sins then it negates the whole death penalty for sin. Right? Well, people try to squirm out from that all the time because the implications are that you really have to get serious about the Bible. If that is true, the Bible saying that the earth as we know it is only about 6,000 years old. What about all of this science? There are a lot of conflicts there. So let's figure out a way to make everything billions of years old because those atheist scientists have to be coming up with the truth. 


They want to say that spiritual death only affected Adam. No, Adam's sin affected the whole creation. That is what Paul is saying in Romans 8:20 - the creation was subject to futility. Adam's sin didn't just separate him from God. It was like an enormous shock wave off a nuclear bomb that reverberated through every system - physical, immaterial, angelic, everything got impacted by Adam's decision in some way or another. Everything got impacted. It changed lions from being grass eaters to carnivores. It created innumerable problems. Nobody wanted to sleep with cobras anymore. Things got dangerous. 


All of that is going to change when the Millennium comes back. All of a sudden Jesus is going to come back and almost instantaneously lions are going to eat grass and they are going to sleep with babies. Kids can put their hands into cobra dens. All that happens as soon as Jesus comes back. It is going to go right back to the way it was. So the creation – all the death that you see evidenced in the fossil record is a result of a post fall sin, not anything that could have happened before. If any of those fossils were laid down prior to the fall, then you have a major flaw in the whole atonement theology because you have death before there is sin. It just can't happen. 


So Paul goes on to say….


NKJ Romans 8:21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.


NKJ Romans 8:22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.


NKJ Romans 8:23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.


That is about the third time we have had the word "waiting." That is hope. That is that eternal sense of a personal destiny. 


NKJ Romans 8:24 For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?


NKJ Romans 8:25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.


See the connection between hope and endurance? If you want to develop biblical hope in your life, then that relates to endurance and hanging in there.  What gives us that ability to endure is that we understand the future destiny, what the training is all about.


Let's go back to our verse in Hebrews 6:10. 


NKJ Hebrews 6:10 For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.


Hebrews 6:10 ends with the fact that we go through all of this and we are involved in ministry, service to the saints. This should be understood as a causal participle. It is an adverbial participle of cause that should be translated…


Literal translation:  Because you have served the saints and you continue to do so. 


So they have been in spiritual regression, but they haven't totally gotten rid of Christianity. They are still involved in Christian service and Christian growth. 


We will stop there and come back and look at 11 and 12 next time. We have an understanding and flowchart to work with and we will develop that as we go forward.